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R SE

THE

LEVANTARSE

2012

“ This is my family, you can’t take me away from them...”

Gangs, Imigration & Identity

ISSUE 4

Advice, Quick Topics and More!

What’s New?

The Rise / www.Esperanzainc.org


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CONTENTS “To me each person is their own culture. Nobody is exactly alike and its because of this exact reason that you can’t put a group of people into one category. If someone is Muslim but was raised with American traditions then what is their culture?”

Many faces... many names.. Who am I?

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Q: What is your native country? A: I was born and raised in Mexico. I lived with my

mother, father and 3 sisters. I really enjoyed living there, but who doesn’t like being “home”.

Q: Can you tell me when you decided to immigrate to the United States?

A: Well the funny thing is, I never personally wanted

to move to America. My sisters always wanted to go. We already had relatives living in Chicago, so we often would visit them. One winter we decided to go up there to visit them, and I met the man that would forever change my life. I was with my sister Tita at the corner store when I met Juilian. I never was interested in Puerto Rican men, but he was different. He changed me, and my whole outlook on life. I ended up staying in Chicago and marrying the man, and we had three children together.

Dear Wevon?

13

“I really think you should reconsider in joining the gang. I know they make you feel as if you’re part of a family but they don’t care for you like a family PAGE does. Once you get in trouble with the law they won’t help you out of it. Worse case scenario you could die and they wouldn’t avenge your death.”

The Rise / www.Esperanzainc.org / Page 2


FYI: GANGS &IMMIGRATION 1. The number of illegal immigrants in the United States was estimated at 11.5 million in 2011, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

1.Today’s gangs are very sophisticated, crossing state lines to establish groups and recruit members as young as munities across the country.

2. The illegal immigrant population grew by 27% between 2000 and 2009, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

2.Gangs use children because they know that whatever the child under thirteen does, he or she cannot go to jail.

3. Sixty-three percent of the illegal immigrant population (approximately 6.8 million) entered the United States before 2000. (DHS)

3.32.4% of all the nation’s cities, suburban towns and rural areas experienced gang problems in 2008.

4. Fifty-eight percent of the illegal immigrant population is from Mexico. (Pew)

4.To gang members, graffiti is a marking of territorial boundaries and serves as a warning or challenge to a rival gang.

5. Twenty-four percent of illegal immigrants reside in California; 16% reside in Texas. (DHS) And here are recent developments relating to immigration in the United States:

5.Many kids join gangs because they do not receive adequate family attention, the gang provides love, identity and status; in turn they develop loyalty to the gang.

6. 2008: The Department of Homeland Security apprehended 792,000 foreign nationals. Eighty-eight percent of those arrested were natives of Mexico. Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehended 379,000 people. (DHS) 7. 2008: The Department of Homeland Security removed 359,000 illegal immigrants from the United States. Of those, 69% were repatriated to Mexico; 8% were repatriated to Honduras; 7.7% were repatriated to Guatemala. (DHS) 8. 2008: More than 810,000 illegal immigrants accepted offers to return to their home countries without being forcibly removed. (DHS) 9.2008: The Department of Homeland Security removed 97,100 criminals who were also illegal immigrants. Of those, 36% had been convicted of drugrelated crimes. (DHS) 10. 2009: The number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent was 350,000. These made up 8% of all U.S. births. (Pew)

6.Many different ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups make up gangs. 7.A number of well-known, widespread gangs such as the Crips, the Bloods and 18th Street originated in LA. 8.Gangs remain the primary distributors of drugs throughout the U.S. 9.Gangs are associating with organized crime entities, such as Mexican drug organizations, Asian criminal groups and Russian organized crime groups. 10.The Department of Justice estimates there are approximately 27,900 gangs, with 774,000 members, impacting communities across the United States.


Questions To The Reader Q. What defines your identity? A. What defines someone’s identity is not only the image they portray but their personality. Identity is defined by who you are and what you stand for. For example I can be identified as someone who is independent and wants to be successful in life. I can also be seen as a light skinned brunette with brown eyes and brown hair with blonde highlights. Identity isn’t how you’re seen on the outside, but also on the inside. So who are you? - Kelsey Ruiz, 15

Q. Why do people associate with gangs? A. There are a lot of reasons why people join gangs. Gangs to some people are considered

family, to others it’s a way of life. It may be all they know or it could just be that they want to fit into a society where a portion of people share the same thoughts and ideas of things. For example immigrants fall into gangs because when they come to the U.S they try to find something similar, people they can call their family. - Jennifer Cruz , 19

Q. Why do people immigrate to the United States? A. People immigrate to the United States mostly because they might not have as much

freedom in their own country as we do in ours. Some immigrate due to job relocations and others for a life with better opportunities. People immigrate from many different parts of the world and it takes a lot to do so. They’re people just like us and deserve equal opportunities. - Victoria, 16

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The Rise:

Interview: Immigration

Q: What is your native country? A: I was born and raised in Mexico. I lived with my

mother, father and 3 sisters. I really enjoyed living there, but who doesn’t like being “home”.

Q: Can you tell me when you decided to immigrate to the United States?

A: Well the funny thing is, I never personally wanted

to move to America. My sisters always wanted to go. We already had relatives living in Chicago, so we often would visit them. One winter we decided to go up there to visit them, and I met the man that would forever change my life. I was with my sister Tita at the corner store when I met Juilian. I never was interested in Puerto Rican men, but he was different. He changed me, and my whole outlook on life. I ended up staying in Chicago and marrying the man, and we had three children together.

We’ve had the chance to Interview 63 year old Lupita, on her imigration story.

Q: How did immigration change your life? A: It changed my life in many, many ways. I was a practicing

Catholic, but after I married Juilian, I converted to Baptist. I never did half of the things that I did before. But I really felt that me staying in America opened up my eyes to what was really happening around me. The reality was that, my husband was leaving me for my best friend. He told me “It’s not that I don’t love you, or that I don’t care about you, but my heart is just not with you anymore.” I was in Cleveland, with no relatives, just me and my three kids. It was really hard, we were dirt poor. But I always kept my faith, and I wouldn’t have had my life any other way. Now I have moved to Texas, and started a new life. I am now 63 years young, and still enjoying what this country has offered me.

Q: Do you have any advice for people who are immigrants or who are relatives of immigrants?

A: Never give up your faith or hope for that citizenship. I was lucky to get it because I married a citizen, but my sister wasn’t so lucky. She lived very poor while she was waiting for her citizenship. It a very long and hard process but never give up!


Interview:

Q: What is your native country? A: I was born and raised in Mexico. I lived with my mother, father and 3 sisters. I really enjoyed living there, but who doesn’t like being “home”.

Immigration

Q: Can you tell me when you decided to immigrate to the United States? A: Well the funny thing is, I never personally wanted to move to America. My sisters always wanted to go. We already had relatives living in Chicago, so we often would visit them. One winter we decided to go up there to visit them, and I met the man that would forever change my life. I was with my sister Tita at the corner store when I meet Juilian. I never was interested in Puerto Rican men, but he was different. He changed me, and my whole outlook on life. I ended up staying in Chicago and marrying the man, and we had three children together.

Q: How did immigration change your life? A: It changed my life in many, many ways. I was a practicing Catholic, but after I married Juilian, I converted to Baptist. I never did half of the things that I did before. But I really felt that me staying in America opened up my eyes to what was really happening around me. The reality was that, my husband was leaving me for my best friend. He told me “It’s not that I don’t love you, or that I don’t care about you, but my heart is just not with you anymore.” I was in Cleveland, with no relatives, just me and my three kids. It was really hard, we were dirt poor. But I always kept my faith, and I wouldn’t have had my life any other way. Now I have moved to Texas, and started a new life. I am now 63 years young, and still enjoying what this country has offered me.

Q: Do you have any advice for people who are immigrants or who are relatives of immigrants? A: Never give up your faith or hope for that citizenship. I was lucky to get it because I married a citizen, but my sister wasn’t so lucky. She lived very poor while she was waiting for her citizenship. It’s a very long and hard process but never give up!

The Rise / www.Esperanzainc.org / Page 6


INTERVIEW: Gangs Q:Why did you join a gang? A: I didn’t feel accepted in my neighborhood, at

school or at home. My mom was addicted to cocaine and I never knew my father. My sister left to college first chance she got and I haven’t seen her for 6 years. I was alone at home and at school things weren’t any better. I was being bullied at school because I was the only white boy in my class. I wanted to show them that I wasn’t someone you could mess with. I was stronger than they thought I was. I felt like the only way to prove myself was to join a gang. That would eliminate most of the bullies because I’d be a part of them and the others would know to stay away.

We’ve interviewed an ex-gang member. He wanted to remain anonymous. Q:

Did you sell drugs when you were in your gang?

A: I did at a point. I did many illegal things in my

Is a gang more than family or just an organization?

gang. From stealing, to beating another member, and even prostituting young women. As long as they were there for me and protected me I didn’t care what I had to do. I had to work for respect and if that meant putting my life at risk so be it.

and if someone messes with you they mess with everyone. They’re the only people to be there for you at the end of the day.

Q. What made you finally leave the gang? A: My girlfriend became pregnant with my

Q:

A: They are a family. You have each other’s backs

Q:

Did you feel important being a gang member?

A:

I mean no, I felt like I had power, but I felt as if we are all important. I’m not the only one that did things in the gang. I also kind of felt like a slave. They made you do the dirty work while they got the payment. You always felt at risk to being caught or killed. I worked my way up in the ranks but still never got to the top.

daughter. She was everything to me and I wanted a better life for her. My girlfriend also told me that I wasn’t allowed to see my daughter if I stayed in a gang. I couldn’t lose my baby so I decided to leave. It was hard to leave the gang but I knew I had to do it. We broke up and she lives in another city going to college but I still go and see my child everyday. I work now and even though I make less money than I did before it’s worth it.

Q. Was it easy to leave the gang? A: No. They were my family, my stronghold, my

everything for a while. They gave me that family feeling I was always searching for. I had father figures and sisters that I never really felt. But I couldn’t just lose my child. At first they weren’t happy about me leaving but they said that they understood and I was released.


Interview: Identity

We’ve had the pleasure of

interviewing a bi-sexual girl named Lily. Q. How do you feel about society and LGBT?

A. I think it’s stupid that society is against

Q: Have you always felt you were bi-sexual?

A: No I haven’t. My first crush was

actually a guy but I do feel as if you are born being the way you are.

Q: How did you find out? A: I don’t know really. I just talked to this

friend at summer camp in sixth grade and I had a weird feeling around her. I started to try and impress her and be by her all the time. I wanted her to be my buddy. She made me feel different and the next thing I knew I had a crush on her. Even though I liked girls, I still had feelings for boys. It’s a very contradicting feeling. But I don’t think you necessarily “find out” more as if you bring it to life.

Q:

Was it hard for you to accept you

might be bi-sexual?

A: At first it was really hard to accept it. I

started to stay away from girls and hanging out more with guys. I followed what everyone else was doing to be normal. I told myself everyday that I wasn’t bi-sexual but, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself I was straight I knew that I wasn’t. Sometimes I would cry myself to sleep because I didn’t want to be different. I was one of the only black people in my school and being bi didn’t make it better. Somehow I just learned to accept it.

it. Even though now we’re taught it’s okay a lot more I still feel as if many people can’t come out. You shouldn’t care if someone is gay. If you’re not LGBT than it doesn’t affect you so why should you care?

Q.

How do other people look at you

now that you have come out?

A.

I don’t care what people think of me anymore. This is who I am like it or not. You don’t have to accept me but at least have the dignity and moral to respect me. I’m not going to change because you want me to.

Q.

Do your parents know? If not, are

you planning on telling them?

A. No my parents don’t know but my grand-

mother and aunt do. Yes, I do plan on telling them soon. I know that they’ll be a little upset for a while. They might even blame themselves for not watching me closer but I know later they will accept me.

Q. Do you have any advice to people who are going through the same situation?

A.

Not to worry about labels. If you like someone it shouldn’t matter if it’s a girl or boy. Everyone is different and it’s okay to feel the way you feel. You were born that way and you aren’t alone. There are many people who could help you. At the end of the day it’s your life, not society’s , not the government’s, not your family’s. Yours and you should live to please yourself.

The Rise / www.Esperanzainc.org / Page 8


The Rise/ Forum on Culture: There are five pillars in the Muslim world, you have to follow every one in order to be a true Muslim. . 1.You must believe in Allah and that he's the only god 2.You have to pray five times a day 3.Each year you're supposed to give money to the poor 4.Each year you have to fast during the month of Ramadan 5.You have to go to the pilgrimage of makkah to get Gods forgiveness. A girl must be a virgin when she gets married. Muslims cannot eat pork, drink or get any tattoos. The women have to wear a scarf because they cannot show skin. The Muslims follow the Q’uran just like Christan's follow the Bible. You have to read the Q’uran at least once in your lifetime. A girl is supposed to start wearing the scarf when she's is seven years old. Even though I do not wear one, I know for sure I'll wear it, its just going to take time for me. My family isn't forcing me. But if you go to Palestine all my little cousins are wearing it. Over here its different but my mom wears it and I think i’ll start wearing it later in my marriage. I go with my grandparents every night to pray at our mosque. I'm in the processing of learning how to pray at home.

To me each person is their own culture. Nobody is exactly alike and its because of this exact reason that you can’t put a group of people into one category. If someone is Muslim but was raised with American traditions then what is their culture? If you’re Mexican but also Puerto Rican what is your culture? If you are Vietnamese but you were adopted into an American family what is your culture? Each person offers a different virtue to the world. I’m proud of my culture. Not only being Mexican but also Jamaican. I’m proud of not only being a student but a worker. I don’t only play sports but I’m also in clubs. When I was little, I grew up in the inner city but now I live in the suburbs. My life, my environment, my religion, and my race makes my culture but I know that no one has the exact same life as me. And I don’t have the same life as someone else.

Few people wish not to be Hispanic, but I’m proud of being 100 percent Hispanic. Many people do not want to be Hispanic simply for the fact of stereotypes, but I can care less about stereotypes. I’m Hispanic and proud of it. Yes we can be loud, we eat rice and mangu , we listen to bachata and, at times we throw temper tantrums when we run out of adobo and sofrito, but who can blame us, that’s who we are. And at times I do wish I looked different, like a white girl, but I learned to love my distinction; my tan skin, curly hair, and big brown eyes. Although I was born and raised in America, I’m still as close to my ethnic background and others should be too. It doesn’t matter if you were born in America, it still makes you Latina/o. Be proud of who you are because we were all born this way.

- Yasmine Sadik

- Larisa DaSilva

-Brenda Abreu

Many faces... many names.. Who am I?


THE RISE/ TEEN & PARENT VIEW

Parent View:

Yolanda Rodriguez is the mother of Carlos Rodriguez. She says that she wants her son to have a good life. She always imagined he would be a straight “A” student who didn’t disobey her. She tried to get her son to participate in school activities instead of illegal ones. She also wanted him to dress according to what she considered appropriate. Her husband tells her that it’s just a phase, that he is just trying to find who he really is but Carlos says that this is who he is and it’s not going away. Her son is starting to convince her that he’ll be this way forever and she just doesn’t want to accept it. Yolanda tries her best to turn what she calls an “identity crisis” around by buying him the type of clothes that she thinks he should wear. Yolanda began taking away his phone and grounding him so he doesn’t see the friends that she doesn’t approve of, and calling his teachers to find out what his homework is and locking him in his room until he completes it. Somehow though, Carlos finds a way around all of this and still manages to see his friends and borrow clothes from them so he doesn’t have to wear the ones that she bought him. He was pretending to do his homework and wasn’t writing real answers down. Yolanda says that she just doesn’t know what to do and just hopes that it would all go away.

Teen View:

Carlos Rodriguez is the son of Yolanda Rodriguez and the youngest of four kids. He says that he has fun with his friends, school is boring, and all the people he hangs out with dresses the way he does. He knows what he does with his friends is wrong but everything fun is illegal. He doesn’t like school and he stopped going for awhile until his mom found out and decided to drop him off everyday herself and watch him walk in. He likes his clothes and he likes the person he is and just wishes that his mom would get off his back about the way he is. He knows that he’s not living up to her expectations or being the type of person that she wants him to be but he wishes she would just accept him for who he is. It’s hard dealing with her all the time but he’s not going to change who he is for anyone; a gang member change who he is.

The Rise / www.Esperanzainc.org / Page 10


No Looking Back

My name is Devontae and I was once in a gang called “Motion23.” Theres a lot of rules when you’re in a gang like wearing specific colors. We always wore the color white, but one day I messed up. I was walking around without wearing our colors and for that each member was allowed to hit me for 30 seconds while my hands were behind my back. That’s what they call “30 seconds in the box.” After a while the gang life I so desperately wanted grew tiresome and I was ready to leave. I had tried reasoning with my leader but he refused to let me go. I knew right then and there that I was trapped.

I knew my relationship with my mother wasn’t the best but there had to be more to life. I started to do research on how I could get help without putting my life at risk . All I wanted to do was move to another state where no one knew me; a place where I could start over. I found a website that featured former gang members who left their hometown to escape from the gangs they once called their families. The transition had not been easy for them either, the mobility of the other gang members and their contacts in other cities kept many in fear. They told me that there will always be constant fear wherever you live and I was willing to take that risk.


One night I finally built up the courage and left. With the money in my pocket I rushed to the Greyhound station and bought a oneway ticket to a city where no one knew me. I knew the people who wanted to hurt me would eventually get caught up in their own problems and I’d be able to be happy without living in fear. I slept the whole way there and once I finally arrived to my destination I knew there was no looking back.

For the past three years they’ve been the people who gave me a home when I didn’t have one. At that time I was having problems with my mom and she decided to kick me out so I found my own way to do things and take care of myself. In the beginning it was all fun and games to me because I had everything I wanted; money ,clothes, girls and what I believed to be a real family. I begun to realize I was a pawn in their sick game. I was fighting for causes I didn’t believe in. So I decided to leave; to get out before things got way out of hand.

The Rise / www.Esperanzainc.org / Page 12


The Rise/

DearWevon...

Dear Wevon,

I’m 18 years old also a senior at my school, and I’m thinking of joining a gang. I’m always getting picked on by these groups of kids at school. One day I was walking home from school when they jumped me. I tried to get help from my mother but she works two jobs and is rarely home. I didn’t know what to do until my friend suggested I join his gang. I went to go talk with the gang leader and he made me feel like I was a part of a family. I don’t want to be alone and they’re always there for me. Also, on the plus side, they rival with the kids that make fun of me. I really just want to teach them a lesson and give them a reason not to mess with me. I know that if I join the gang then I’ll be doing illegal tasks but I really want someone to be there for me. I want to finally stick up for myself. Can you give me some advice? Sincerely, Lonely

Dear Lonely, I really think you should reconsider in joining the gang. I know they make you feel as if you’re part of a family but they don’t care for you like a family does. Once you get in trouble with the law they won’t help you out of it. Worse case scenario you could die and they wouldn’t avenge your death. They will just find someone else to fill your spot. Your mother is working hard everyday to give you the best life she can. Even though she’s not always home, it doesn’t mean she won’t help you. The best thing in your situation is to talk to a trusted adult and see if they can help you. Just keep going to school and try your hardest to ignore the boys. Know that once you join you can’t just leave when you want to start a new life. Think about your future and whether or not this is the best direction for you. Sincerely, Wevon


Web Resource Facts About Youth in Gangs and How they Struggle to Get Out www.nationalgangcenter. gov Gang Prevention and Immigration Help www.gripe4rkids.org Get information on citizenship, green cards, work visas www.uscis.gov Counseling therapists.psychologytoday. com Marriage and Family Therapy

www.aamft.org Abuse kidshealth.org Gang Prevention / Different Gangs www.gangpreventionservices.org Immigrant Legal Resource Center www.ilrc.org U.S. Immigration Laws and Procedures www.usimmigrationlawyers. com Therapist or Marriage Counselor www.goodtherapy.org

The Rise / www.Esperanzainc.org / Page 14


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The Rise: Issue 4  

The fourth issue deals with gangs, immigration & identity.

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